Sunday, June 16, 2024

A Look at JAY-Z’s Parents, Gloria Carter and Adnis Reeves

JAY-Z poses with his mom Gloria Carter
Jay Z poses for a picture with his mom at the opening of her new restaurant (Getty Images)

*People magazine recently did a deep dive on the relationships between JAY-Z and his biological mother and father.

The rapper and business mogul was born to Gloria Carter and Adnis “AJ” Reeves in Brooklyn, NY on Dec. 4, 1969. He and his four siblings were raised in Brooklyn’s Marcy Houses, a public housing project in the borough’s Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood.

JAY-Z has spoken publicly about his relationships with both parents in past interviews and in lyrics. In June 2017, the Grammy-winning artist released a whole song named after his dad on his 13th studio album “4:44.” The track, “Adnis,” is a letter to his estranged father, who died from liver failure in June 2003. Their relationship was turbulent, People notes. Adnis left the family when JAY-Z was 11 years old. He wouldn’t see his dad again until months before his death many years later. Hov has opened up in the past about moving from resentment toward his dad, to respect, despite his abandonment.

“I would love for our generation and all the people that grew up without their parents, whether you knew them early on or not is to have that conversation so you could let that sort of anger go, because that’s the sort of anger that keeps you from love,” JAY-Z said in a 2015 podcast. “It makes you put up walls and you don’t let people get close to you, because you don’t ever want to feel that feeling of abandonment or that feeling of hurt again. So without that context, just him leaving, I had this anger, you know, but when I slowly got to know why I could understand a bit of what happened to him.”

Gloria, an investment company clerk at the time of Adnis’ abandonment, was left to raise JAY-Z and his older siblings as a single parent. People points out that Jigga has a close bond with his mother. For years, JAY-Z didn’t know the reason his father left and hadn’t contacted him since. During an interview with Dream Hampton for JAY-Z’s 2006 publication, The Black Book, Gloria revealed the truth behind Adnis’ departure.

JAY-Z kisses his mom Gloria Carter
JAY-Z kisses his mom Gloria Carter photographed at the Marcy Houses on Christmas morning in 2004 (Shawn Carter Foundation, Instagram)

“Jay’s uncle was stabbed in the chest during an unfair fight,” Hampton said. “And his father became consumed with desire for revenge… And he kinda never recovered from that.” JAY-Z added, “That made him a bitter, evil, different guy.”

JAY-Z finally reconnected with his dad months before his June 2003 death. The reunion was initiated by Gloria when she learned that Adnis didn’t have much longer to live. Although his dad was a no-show for the first attempted meetup, he appeared the second time.

“Me and my pop got to talk,” JAY-Z said in the Rolling Stone profile. “I got to let it go. I got to tell him everything I wanted to say. I just said what I felt. It wasn’t yelling and crying and drastic and dramatic. It was very adult and grown men, but it was tough.”

JAY-Z helped his dad in his final days, including finding him an apartment in Brooklyn near the hospital where he was undergoing treatment.

In June 2017, 14 years after his death, JAY-Z released “Adnis,” a “4:44″ bonus cut about their strained relationship, written as a letter of respect to his dad after years of animosity.

“All my songs up until this point have been about anger with my dad,” JAY-Z recalled in his “Footnotes of Adnis” series. “As an adult looking back, now I have a different perspective of it. I started thinking, ‘Man, my dad married my mother at a time when everybody was leaving.’ He tried.”

JAY-Z raps in the song: “Started a good man, you married my mama // I was in her belly, you hurried that summer // She had two kids from a previous mister // One family, I don’t believe in half-sisters // Never treated my brother like a step, Pop //Remembered the many lessons when we stepped out.”

He continues in part: “Who would’ve thought I’d be the dad I never had // Be the husband I’ve become, usually nothing come from that // I forgive you as long as I live through the beautiful present of the past // I’m just thankful that I get all these gifts to unwrap.”
The chorus repeats: “What was you preparing us — For?”

Watch JAY-Z’s “Adnis” video below:

Gloria married her longtime partner Roxanne Wiltshire in July 2023. In 2017, JAY-Z opened up about his mother coming out to him as a lesbian on another “4:44” track called “Smile.”

“Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian/Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian/Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate/Society shame and the pain was too much to take,” the Grammy winner rapped in the song.

“Cried tears of joy when you fell in love/Don’t matter to me if it’s a him or her/I just wanna see you smile through all the hate/Marie Antoinette, baby, let ’em eat cake,” JAY-Z continued.

Listen to JAY-Z’s “Smile” track below:

JAY-Z later spoke about his mother coming out to him during an appearance on David Letterman’s Netflix series in 2018. “Imagine having to live your life as someone else and you think you’re protecting your kids,” he explained on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. “For her to sit in front of me and tell me ‘I think I love someone,’ I really cried… I cried because I was so happy for her that she was free.”

Watch below:

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